The years between ages 11 and 16 can be especially challenging for children as they begin to become adults. Those are truly the most sensitive years for them. As parents, Jim Bob and I try to take the time to really open the lines of communication and let them know about the big changes they can expect. We tell them it's okay because we've all gone through those changes. We try to encourage them since these are going to be some of the hardest times of their lives - they're trying to figure out who they are and who they are going to be.
They won't be just like their brothers or sisters so they shouldn't try to fit into a mold because they will be who they're going to be. I tell them: "You're going to have the ups and downs of these roller coaster crazy emotions going on. That's okay. You keep talking to mom and dad and we'll get through it together. Don't try to just close off and walk all by yourself, because you need the encouragement more than you realize right now. And we're here for you."
Pulling out the kids that don't talk as much is really important, giving them that time and that space. Letting them know that we know how they're feeling. Then if they share, giving them the time to talk and just listen. I can let them know their feelings aren't strange. We've all thought the same things as we figure out who we're going to be. We've all felt similar emotions or feelings.
They'll get through this difficult season of life and come out on the other end a solid, balanced adult. A family should encourage one another and be a place of refuge, a place where we can share, communicate and talk. We should be that safe place for our kids.
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